“To forget one's ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root."
An old Chinese proverb.

WHOLE NO. 199a


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THE SPARKS QUARTERLY, published by The Sparks Family Association

John K. Carmichael, Jr., President, 3408 N. Rosewood Ave., Muncie, Indiana (47304-2025)

A. Harold Sparks, Vice President, 500 1st St., N., #303, Newton, Iowa (50208-3104)

Russell E . Bidlack, Secretary-Treasurer & Editor, 1709 Cherokee Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan (48104-4498)

The Sparks Family Association was founded in March 1953 as a non-profit organization devoted to assembling and preserving genealogical and historical materials pertaining to the Sparks Family in America.  By this term is meant descendants of immigrants to the United States during the past four centuries who have spelled their name Sparks, Spark, or Sparkes. There have been scores of such individuals, most of whom were natives of the British Isles.  Their relationship to each other, however, can rarely be discovered, nor can the exact locations of their former homes.  Surnames did not become common in Europe and England before the Fifteenth Century.  An essay on the derivation of the name Sparks appeared in the second issue of The Sparks Quarterly (June 1953) and was reprinted in that of September 2002.

The Sparks Family Association is exempt from federal tax under the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code, Section 503(c) (7).  Membership In the Association is open to all persons connected with the Sparks Family, whether by blood, marriage, or adoption, and to persons Interested In genealogical research.  Membership falls into three classes: Active, Contributing, and Sustaining. Active Membership dues are $10.00 per year; Contributing Membership dues are $15.00 per year; and Sustaining Membership dues are any amount over $15.00 that the member wishes to contribute for the support of the Association. All members receive The Sparks Quarterly as it is published in March, June, September, and December. Back issues are kept in print and are available for $3.00 each to members of the Association and for $4.00 each to non-members.  The first issue of the Quarterly was published in March 1953. Nine quinquennial indexes have been published for the years 1953-57; 1958-62; 1963-67; 1968-72; 1973-77; 1978-82; 1983-87; 1988-92; and 1993-97.  Each index is available for $5.00.

A complete file of all back issues of the Quarterly, including the nine indexes, may be purchased for $360.00.  The forty-nine years of the Quarterly (1953-2001) comprise a total of 5634 pages of Sparks Family History.  The nine indexes (1953-97) amount to over 900 additional pages.  An index for 1998-2002 will be published in 2003.  A table of contents is also available for $5.00.  Comprising 77 pages, this lists the articles and collections of data appearing in the Quarterly between 1953 and 2001; it is updated at the end of each year.  The International Standard Serial Number that has been assigned to the Quarterly is ISSN 0561-5445.

Orders for individual back issues of the Quarterly and the table of contents, as well as for a complete file, should be sent to the editor, Russell E . Bidlaek, 1709 Cherokee Road, Ann Arbor, MI, 48104-4498. His telephone number is 734-662-5080; he has no E-Mail address.




By Russell E . Bidlack

(Editor's Note: This article first appeared in the QUARTERLY of June 1953, No. 3.  It was reprinted in the issue for December 1967 on the suggestion that, after 14 years, there were many new members who had not seen it.   Now another SFA member, Sarah Sparks Kellerhals, has urged that, after the passage of 35 more years, it should appear again.  Mrs . Kellerhals has written of her own personal observation supporting the probability, as discussed below, that Sparks became a nickname for "Sparrowhawk"   She reports that after reading this article, she was " surprised and elated to notice one day" that her father, a Mr . Sparks, "bore the exact profile in his shoulders and head of a sparrowhawk.  His round virtually bald head sat on his shoulders with no visible neck showing above his clothes . His profile - and you could add his nose into the picture - was the perfect suggestion of a sparrow hawk ."

[In the following reprint, we have included some slight changes suggested by Mrs. Kellerhals.]

We all know that surnames, or family names, did not exist in Bible times, but it comes as something of a surprise to most of us when we learn that for a thousand years after the birth of Christ, surnames were almost unheard of.  When William the Conqueror established himself in England, even the nobles did not have surnames - in fact, family names were not common among the nobility until the 13th century, and they were not generally adopted by the lower classes until the 16th century .

The first people to use surnames in England were the great land owners, the noble men who took as their surnames the names of their estates.  Thus, a man named Richard might own an estate called Cotgrove, and in order to distinguish him from a neighbor also named Richard, his friends referred to him as Richard of Cotgrove.  Calling him this answered the question, "Where  is he from? "  The eldest son usually inherited the estate, so he also inherited his father's family name.  Eventually the preposition "of" was dropped, and a true name developed that, unlike an estate, could be inherited by all the children.  These surnames are called place names .

Only a small number of the inhabitants of England, however, owned land, and as it became desirable for one reason or another to have a surname, some source other than the name of property was necessary for the great majority of Englishmen.  For many, a name was supplied by asking, "What does he do?" So a mill owner named Henry might be called Henry the Miller, then shortened to Henry Miller. This is the typical origin of thousands of so-called "occupational names" such as Smith, Farmer, Cartwright, Arrow smith, and Shoemaker .

Another question that might be asked was, " Who is his father?" If the answer were William, he would be called William's son, which is the origin of the name Williamson.  In other cases, the "son" would not become part of the name, but the possessive "s"
might be retained, and the result would be Williams.

A fourth source of surnames was the answer to the question, "What does he look like?" or "What is his most prominent feature?" Thus originated such names as Short, Long, Big[g], and Small. In assigning nicknames to people today, we often use the same device and produce such names as Shorty, Tiny, Red, and Gabby. Nicknames are derived as well from many sources other than physical characteristics . Writers on the origin of surnames are careful to point out that in dealing with a surname that has derived from a nickname, we can never know for sure just why the nickname was applied In the first place.  Such is the problem we face when we attempt to account for the name SPARKS, because it is generally agreed that the surname Sparks did, indeed, begin as a nickname .




Authorities are agreed that the name SPARKS has derived from the word SPARROW HAWK, a nickname that was used in England before the arrival of William the Conqueror in 1066.  It is not believed, however, that the name Sparrowhawk became a family name or surname until the 13th century . The earliest person on record who was called Sparrowhawk, or Spearhafoc in the Anglo-Saxon language of the time, was a monk of Bury St. Edmunds who became Abbot of Abington in the year 1048. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle contains the account of how this monk was appointed to the bishopric of London by Edward the Confessor around 1050 but was never consecrated due to the opposition of the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury, yet brave monk Sparrowhawk occupied the bishopric with the king's per mission "all that summer and autumn" until he was later expelled .

In the Domesday Book, a census and survey of all England ordered by William the Conqueror in 1085/86, the names Sparhauoc and Sperhavoc, both recorded phonetically, appear among the landowners who had possessed land at the time of Edward the Confessor.

The sparrow hawk has been a common bird in the British Isles for many centuries.  Probably dozens of other persons were also nicknamed Sparrowhawk, of whom no record has survived. The sparrow hawk is really a small falcon, 11 to 12 inches long, and was used extensively in the ancient sport of falconry where certain birds were trained to attack other birds and carry them back to their masters . The sparrow hawk is described in the Encyclopedia Americana as very bold and active and "not infrequently may be seen to attack other larger birds of prey, its courage extending even to recklessness, while it is also shy and wary . "




In 1538 Henry VIII, King of England, decreed that each head of a family must acquire a surname for himself and his family, and that all births, marriages, and deaths be recorded in the registry in the parish in which the family lived.  Thus it happened that some four hundred and fifty years ago an Englishman called Sparrowhawk handed his name down to his sons, and our family name was on its way to being firmly established.  There were doubtless several men in England in the 16th century with the nickname Sparrowhawk who assumed it as their family name.  They were probably widely scattered over the British Isles and were unrelated to each other; therefore, persons today with the name Sparrowhawk or Sparks cannot claim descent from the same ancestor even though their name is the same .

It would be extremely interesting if we could know exactly who our own remote ancestor was who established the name as our family name .  We should like to know why his neighbors called him "Sparrowhawk".  Was he bold and active like the bird, or was he just the opposite and people called him Sparrowhawk to make fun of him?  Or did some comic suggest that he actually resembled a sparrow hawk due to a hawkish nose or protruding eyes?  Or was he fond of the sport of falconry, possessing a large number of sparrow hawks trained for that purpose?  Or did he operate an inn that had a picture of a sparrow hawk on its sign and was known as "Sparrow-hawk's Inn?"  These questions must remain forever unanswered.

Knowing that the remote originators of the name SPARKS were known as Sparrow hawk, the question naturally arises, "How and why did the name change?" Elsdon C. Smith in his The Story of Our Names states: "Ever since surnames first became part of man's full name, they have been changed, corrupted and multiplied beyond number by bringing to bear upon them many diverse influences ."  One of the chief influences of the corruption of surnames, according to Smith, is "lingual abbreviations, " and the example he used is Sparks for Sparrowhawk . In other words, there is a tendency to shorten a name to make it easier and quicker to pronounce. In shortening Sparrowhawk, the first tendency was to eliminate the second syllable and to change the name to Sparhawk . In fact, this lingual abbreviation probably took place in some cases while the name was still a nickname.  In order to shorten the name still further, the tendency was to eliminate the "haw" sound, and the result was Spark . Both of these changes came very early in the evolution of the name, for in the "Hundred Rolls" of 1273, there was a Thomas Sperheuk in Lincolnshire and a Nicholas Sparke in Norfolk. It is also important to note that not everyone named Sparrowhawk allowed his name to be changed to Spark.  A few families have retained the full, original form, while the name Sparhawk is still common enough to be found in nearly any large city directory in the United States today .

During the 14th century the name Sparks became more and more common as a surname.  The records for this period are so meager, however, that it is virtually impossible to trace the relationships that probably existed between many of these families.  A John Spark of Berwick-on-Tweed appears to have been rather prominent during the reign of Edward I.  In the "Patent Rolls" there is a record dated July 6, 1292, that names this John Spark as "going beyond seas on the king's affairs, " and on August 13, 1302, he was appointed one of the "collectors and receivers in the port of Berwick-on-Tweed of the new custom of 2s. a tun..... on all wines brought within the realm ."  The earliest reference to a Spark in the "Patent Rolls" is dated August 17, 1279, on which date "pardon was is sued at Geddington by Edward I "to Humphrey de Cheselade, in Ivelcestre Gaol for the death of Adam Spark . "

The last major change to take place in the name was the addition of the letter s.  This change, according to most authorities, came about as a result of adding the possessive, that is, Spark's, when a son was identified by using his father's name.  When a baptismal record was made, it was customary to enter the father's name as well as that of the child, and it might read: "John, son of Richard Spark's."  The same boy might then be identified in the community as "Spark's son."  




In some instances, the word "son" became a part of the name as in the case of Wilcockson, while in others only the possessive "s" was tacked on, as happened in the case of  Sparks.  The question immediately arises as to why all surnames do not end in "s. ".  One reason is that, though the genitive case came into official use in the English language in the 13th century, many years passed before it became common in everyday speech.  Why one name acquired it and another did not can seldom be determined.  Perhaps in some cases it simply sounded better and was easier to pronounce.  In any case, many of the families named Spark gradually changed to Sparks.  This final change seems to have occurred largely during the 1600s, and by 1600 there were about as many persons named Sparks in the British Isles as there were named Spark.

In some instances, it became customary to spell the name Sparkes. This was/is simply a matter of personal choice.  There are many instances on record where two full brothers would use different spellings, one Sparks and the other Sparkes.  There are legal records dated in the 1800s where the same individual was referred to in one paragraph as Sparks and in the next as Sparkes .

From the earliest settlement in America, we find persons bearing the name Sparks.  A John Sparks was in Jamestown in 1607, and a Thomas Sparks, age 24, was a passenger on the Susan bound for Virginia in 1616.  It is interesting, however, that in nearly all instances, the form of the name found in the United States and Canada has been Sparks.

How common is the name Sparks in the United States today?  Elsdon C . Smith, who has been called American' s leading authority on names, noted in his American Surnames published in 1986, that a study of the 1790 census of the United States had revealed that there were 27,337 different surnames represented among a population of 2,505,371. (Not included in these numbers, however, were the census records of 1790 for New Jersey, Delaware, Georgia, and Tennessee - the schedules for these states having been destroyed in the burning of the Capitol during the War of 1812 and in a fire later in the Patent Office.) Omitting these states, the total households headed by persons named Spark, Sparke, and Sparks in 1790, including two households where the name was written "Spearks, " were distributed as follows: 

New Hampshire
New York
North Carolina
Pennsylvania -
Rhode Island
South Carolina

 In 1994 the Social Security Administration made a "machine count" of surnames in its file of 152,757,455 account numbers and reported that there were 1,091,522 different surnames.  In this compilation, the name Sparks was 448th, with an estimated 55,510 individuals.  It comes as no surprise that number one was Smith in this ranking, with an estimated 2,238,400 individuals. The numbers are doubtless much larger today, but the "ranking" is probably quite similar.  The name Yates then ranked 447th (55,580 individuals), while Decker was 449th (55420).



By John A. Sparks, Jr.

Archibald Wimpy Sparks, who chose to go by the name of "Wimpy Sparks, " was born in Lumpkin County, Georgia, in 1843. Noting that the name "Wimpy" may be considered to be at least an unusual name, I find that he may have been named for a family friend or neighbor.  Living in the same town where he was born was an A. G . Wimpy family. Mrs . A . G . Wimpy was the president of the Ladies Aid Society during the Civil War period.  (See the History of Lumpkin County for the First Hundred Years,1832-1932 by Andrew W, Cain, page 69, the Reprint Company Publishers, Spartanburg, South Carolina.)

Archibald Wimpy Sparks's father was Malone Sparks, born in Burke County, North Carolina, whose wife was Irene Branch, also from Burke County.  Malone moved to Georgia in the 1830's; I believe that he was following the Gold Rush that occurred in Georgia in that decade. He was listed on the 1840 census of Habersham County.  He and his family were shown on the 1850 census of Lumpkin County where his occupation was given as "Miner."  They lived in the area of Dahlonega, county seat of Lumpkin County, and it was there that Malone Sparks died in 1863.

Wimpy Sparks grew up in this location and probably had not yet reached his eighteenth birthday at the formation date of July 9, 1861, of the "Blue Ridge Rifles" of Lumpkin County, Georgia.  He obviously had the desire to join with his friends, but for some reason he remained behind when this company first left Dahlonega.

The unit which Wimpy Sparks would later join was commanded by Captain Joseph H . Hamilton, a West Point graduate who became a major and on December 13, 1862, be came a lieutenant colonel in the Confederate Army . (See page 144 of the History of Lumpkin County cited above.)

An article appearing in the Dahlonega Signal for July 14, 1861, describes the departure of the Blue Ridge Rifles:

On Saturday last this company under the command of Capt. Joseph Hamilton left here for Camp McDonald to perfect their discipline by the 11th of August.  This company numbers about eighty rank and file, made up of the very best of our citizens, and commanded by a young man of decided ability and determination of purpose.  No company from our state is better qualified for destruction, as they been from their earliest boyhood used to the rifle and shut one eye when the they shoot, and every time they pull the trigger a man will fall.  The evening before they left, Rev . A . M. Thigpen preached them a farewell sermon.  He presented each soldier with a Testament urging them to read it and. apply its counsels.  They left with prayers and tears of all for their welfare . May the God of Battle bless them.
When the company reached Camp McDonald, they were connected with Phillips Legion.  After remaining at camp a short time, they were ordered to Virginia and united with Wofford's Brigade, Longstreet Corps, according to reports on the company muster rolls for Company E.

The Georgia Phillips Legion Infantry Battalion was organized on July 2, 1861; it surrended at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, on April 9, 1865.  The first commander and organizational influence was Colonel William Phillips.  The Legion also contained a cavalry battalion . These units did not serve together, however; they were used as separate commands and placed in different theaters of operation until the war ended.

When the Blue Ridge Rifles joined with Phillips Legion, they were designated Company E, Infantry.


ARCHIBALD WIMPY SPARKS (1843-1862), continued:

Using the muster roll records for Company E, I have been able to trace some of the battles to which this unit was assigned.  Under Wofford's Brigade, this company was involved in battles at Fredericksburg, Virginia, Lynchburg, Virginia, and Richmond Ferry, West Virginia.  At Fredericksburg on August 7, 1861, Private Jasper Bates was wounded and would lose his arm as a result of the injury.  September 7, 1861, Private Fountain Davis died at Lynchburg, Virginia, and also on October 6, 1861, Private Samuel London died at Lynchburg.  On October 18, 1861, Private G. F. Parker died at Richmond Ferry, West Virginia.

After these costly engagements, the company was returned to camp in South Carolina.  On February 5, 1862, Private Rice N . Hulsey died near Harlessville, South Carolina.

I believe that while the troops were in South Carolina, First Lieutenant Hardy D . Price returned home to recruit replacements for the lost troops.  It was during that trip home that Wimpy Sparks would join the Army.

Wimpy Sparks's Civil War record from the National Archives consists of only one page.  This is the company muster record for Confederate Phillips Legion, Georgia.  This record states that Private Wimpy Sparks was present for the months of May and June of 1862, Company E Infantry Batt'n.  This report also states that Wimpy Sparks had enlisted on March 4, 1862, at Dahlonega, Georgia; signed by S. L. Hardy D . Price, for a period of three years .

Records shown on page 165 of the History of Lumpkin County, cited above, indicate that Lieutenant Price was wounded at Fredericksburg,Virginia, on December 13, 1862; he later died at Richmond.

A note found in the William Stevens Sparks family Bible states that Wimpy Sparks fought in two battles and died on August 23, 1862, on the Rappahannock River in Virginia.  William Stevens Sparks was Wimpy Sparks's younger brother.

No one thus far has been able to state with certainty exactly where Wimpy Sparks died.  However, with limited Information as support, I can say that he died in one of the four battles known as Rappahannock Station.  These battles were located in Culpeper County and Fauquier County, Virginia.  They were in the Northern Virginia Campaign from June to September of 1862.  The commanding generals were Thomas J. ("Stonewall") Jackson, C.S.A., and John Pope, U.S.

In early August, 1862, General Lee determined that General McClellan's Army was being withdrawn from the Peninsula ' to reinforce John Pope.  He sent Longstreet from Richmond to join Jackson's wing of the Confederate Army near Gordonsville, and Longstreet arrived to take command himself on August 15.  On August 20-21, Pope withdrew to the line of the Rappahannock River.  On August 23, Stuart's Cavalry made a daring raid on Pope' s headquarters at Catlett Station, showing that the Union right flank was vulnerable to a turning movement.  Over the next several days, August 22-25, the two armies fought a series of minor actions along the Rappahannock River, including Waterloo Bridge, Lee Springs, Freeman's Ford, and Sulphur Springs, resulting in a few hundred casualties.  Together, these skirmishes held Pope's Army along the river while Jackson's wing marched via Thoroughfare Gap to capture Bristoe Station and to destroy Federal supplies at Manassas Junction, far to the rear of Pope' s Army.  Although the results of this campaign were inconclusive, the estimated casualties were 225, total.

At the time of this campaign, Phillips Legion Infantry troops had joined Jackson's forces under Longstreet's command.  Private Archibald Wimpy Sparks and Private F . A . McAfee must have been on patrol together as both were reported killed in an artillery duel along the Rappahannock River in Virginia on August 23, 1862.  We may never know the exact location of Wimpy Sparks's death, but I feel that the dates of these battles and Wimpy's stated death date are so close that we can assume he was one of the estimated 225 casualties of this battle.  He was only nineteen, at the most, when he died.  This is only a reminder of the costliest war ever fought on American soil.



ARCHIBALD WIMPY SPARKS (1843-1862), continued:

[Editor's Note: We are pleased that John A. Sparks, Jr. has shared his research on Wimpy Sparks (sometimes spelled "Wimpey") with us.  Wimpy was his grand uncle.  Should a member of the Association wish to correspond with Mr. Sparks regarding his branch of the Sparks family, his address is:  2420 Ballahack Rd., Chesapeake, Virginia, 23322.

[John wishes to express his appreciation to the Middle Georgia Regional Library's Genealogical and Historical Room; he extends his thanks also to Sally McHenry, 14225 Dickens St., No. 7, Sherman Oaks, California, 91423, for her valuable assistance in this project .

(In the QUARTERLY of March 1996, No.173, beginning on page 4603, we included an article entitled "John Sparks (Born ca. 1775--Died Prior to 1810) of Surry and Burke Counties, North Carolina."  This John Sparks was, with little doubt, a son of William Sparks, Jr., who had been born about 1750 in Frederick County, Maryland.  As a lad of about 13 or 14 in 1764, William, Jr. had accompanied his parents, William, Sr. and Ann, on their move from Maryland to the Forks of the Yadkin in Rowan County (now Davie County) North Carolina. (See the lengthy article on William, Sr. and his wife, Ann, in the QUARTERLY of June 1991, No.154.)

[William Sparks, Jr . moved from the Forks of the Yadkin to Surry County, North Carolina, in or about 1771.  His parents and some of his siblings made the same move a little later.  William Sparks, Sr. died in Surry County in either 1801 or 1802.

[By the summer of 1798, William Sparks, Jr. had moved with his family from Surry County to Burke County, also in North Carolina.  His two youngest brothers, Benjamin and Jeremiah Sparks, followed William, Jr. to Burke County a few years later . (See the article entitled "Benjamin Sparks (1769/70-1850), Son of William and Ann Sparks," beginning on page 5682 of the June 2002 issue of the QUARTERLY, No. 198.)

[William Sparks, Jr. appeared on the 1800 census of Burke County, but not on that for 1810.  We believe that he had died before 1810.  We have found no record to reveal the maiden name of his wife.  Genealogical research in Burke County is extremely difficult because the courthouse there burned in 1865, destroying a large portion of the county's records.  From those that do survive, however, we know that William Sparks, Jr. was the father of at least two sons, John, born about 1775, and Larkin, born about 1784. There were also four daughters.

[John Sparks, doubtless the older of William, Jr.'s two sons, had been married for a few years when his father moved to Burke County.  John remained in Surry until after the 1800 census was taken, but soon thereafter he, also, moved his family there.  Before the 1810 census was taken, however, John also died.  William, Jr. was in his late 50's or early 60's when he died, but John was still in his 30's, leaving his wife with four young sons, all under the age of 10 years .

[Shown as head of her household on the 1810 census of Burke County, John's widow was recorded by the census taker as "Eliza Sparks, " but Eliza was likely an " abbreviation for Elizabeth.

[Fortunately, many of Burke County's court records survived the fire of 1865, among which there is a transcript from the meeting of the County Court in April 1812 ordering that 14-year-old William Sparks, called "an orphan of John Sparks, " be bound (i.e. apprenticed to) Jesse Hall to be taught a trade.  Earlier, at a sitting of the Court in January, 1812, 12-year-old orphan Absalom Sparks was bound to Crispin D. Gibbs.  No apprenticeship was provided for Malone Sparks, son of John; .


ARCHIBALD WIMPY SPARKS (1843-1862), continued:

at age 9 or 10, he apparently remained with his widowed mother.  We have found no record of thefourth son of Elizabeth Sparks whose household on the 1810 census had been enumerated with four males under 10 years.

  [On October 17, 1814, Elizabeth Sparks was married (second) to a Burke County widower named George Hodge.  Born in 1761, Hodge had been a soldier in the American Revolution and received a pensIon based on that service.  He died In 1845. When the U. S. Congress passed an act in 1853 enabling widows of Revolutionary War veterans to qualify for pensions, even though their marriage had been after the war ended, Elizabeth successfully applied.  This was before the 1865 courthouse fire in Burke County, so copies of several records burned in that fire are preserved in Elizabeth's pension file at the National Archives.  For further details of how these records have aided us in accounting for the events and relationships noted above, see the QUARTERLY of March 1996, No. 173, pp.4605-10.

[It is interesting to note that two of the sons of John and Elizabeth Sparks were married to daughters of George Hodge by his first wife after their bondage ended at age 21. William, who had been bound to Jesse Hall, was married to Rachel Hodge on May 2, 1819, and Absolom, who had been bound to Crispin D . Gibbs, was married to Esther Hodge on July 19, 1823.  (Bondage for orphans normally ended when they reached age 21.)

[Malone Sparks was married to Rachel Haney in Burke County, North Carolina, on November 16, 1822.  Rachel apparently died childless, and Malone Sparks was married, second, to Irene Branch.  Based on census records, it appears that Malone and Irene (Branch) Sparks were the parents of nine children, the first three of whom were born in North Carolina between 1834 and 1838, while the last six were born in Georgia. These nine were:  

* * * * * * * * * * * *


A number of years ago a Sparks researcher at the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., reported that the earliest city directory of record for Dayton, Ohio, in which the name Sparks appears, is that for 1856-1857.  The next available directory is for 1879-1880, and the third is dated 1890-1892.  The Sparks entries in these three directories are:



QUERY - J. C. SPARKS (1828-1877)

Ron Jones, 119 Helen Drive, Fullerton, CA, 92835-3520 - seeks information about his gr-gr-grandfather, J. C. Sparks, possibly AKA J. Coleway Sparks or James Calvin Sparks.  He writes as follows:

My Great-great-grandfather was a J. C. SPARKS.  He married a POLLY ANN RHODES on 9 August, 1853, at an unknown location.  She was born in South Carolina, perhaps in the Spartanburg area.  Their daughter, Polly Ann (Sparks) Jones, kept a family Bible in which she noted that her father, J. C. Sparks, was born 11 March 1828 in South Carolina.  The first child of their marriage was JAMES G. (or middle initial L.)    SPARKS, born in an unknown location in August 1854.  James G. Sparks died 1 November, 1895 and was buried in Center, Shelby County, Texas.  I would add that the family of his mother, Polly Ann, has many Rhodes relatives living in Shelby County in east TX .

The second child of J. C . Sparks was POLLY ANN LEVINA SPARKS, AKA "Levina" ' or "Viney" was born 14 May 1857 In TN.  Seven other children (total of 9) followed:

Eligia Mangrum Sparks, born 18 Dec. 1858, died 16 Feb. 1863
Nancy Sparks, born 8 Jan. 1861, died 11 Mar., 1862
Rachel Elizabeth AKA "Lizzie," Sparks, born 13 Dec., 1863, died 24 July 1880
Marthaan [sic?] H. Sparks, born 3 Oct. 1866, died 17 Sept. 1880
Burrel [sic?] T. Sparks, born 27 Sept. 1868, died 18 Mar.1883
Berry Ed Sparks, born 11 Nov. 1871, died 17 Jan. 1882
Emly [sic?] Loutila Sparks, born 19 Feb. 1875, died 14 Aug. 1882
All were born (and buried) in an unknown location, and only James G . and "Levina, " lived more than 17 years .

J. C . Sparks died 10 July 1877, at an unknown location.   His grave stone is beside his wife.  His wife, Polly Ann (Rhodes) Sparks died in Shelby County, TX, in 1901 and was buried there alongside her daughter, Polly Ann Levina Sparks, at the Mount Olive Baptist Cemetery in Shelby County.

Now about the name J. C. Sparks: His son-in-law, my grandfather, was not born when J. C. died, but my grandfather did note at one time that J. C . was known as Calvin.  The name on the J. C. memorial stone is James Calvin.  The only record of J. C. in the Mormon Family History Records calls him J. Coleway Sparks.  I did contact Mr. James Edward Daniel of Missouri, who had listed this name, and he could not document his source for the name Coleway .

Levina Sparks married Hardy Jones (whose parents and uncles also lived in Shelby County) in 1881 at age 24 years (apparently a first marriage for her and definitely a second marriage for him) Hardy's parents and siblings lived in Shelby County - as did Hardy, briefly.  The marriage of Levina and Hardy occurred in Hill County, Texas, where Hardy was living at the time, having been widowed at Mount Calm, Limestone County, a year earlier.  The Levina (Sparks) Jones Bible notes the births of their seven children:

Linnie Jones, 1 Dec. 1882
Eva Jones, 13 Mar. 1884
Otto Jones, 13 Jan. 1886 (at Sipes Creek, Commanche County, TX)
Hardy Jones (Jr.) 30 Jan. 1888, died 15 October 1905 and noted in Bible
Lee Arnold Jones, 13 May 1890 (near Moffat, Bell County, TX)
Dee Roy Jones, 2 Feb. 1892 (near Moffat, Bell County, TX)
Audley Blackburn Jones, 23 Feb. 1894 (in TX)
Plesent Hyram Jones [sic?], 18 Feb. 1895 (died about 1898 & buried in Panola County, TX & in Bible)

Any information or suggestions about J. C. Sparks or Polly Ann Rhodes Sparks would be appreciated .

Thank you --   Ronald A . Jones



The following Sparks marriages in Ulster County, New York, were copied many years ago by Ray C . Sawyer from the Christian Intelilgencerof the Reformed Dutch Church published between 1830 and 1871.  Typewritten and bound in 10 volumes, Mr. Sawyer placed his compilation in the Library of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Washington, D . C . In this listing of the Sparks marriages found in Mr . Sawyer's compilation, we have listed them (seven in all) in chronological order, with the volume, number, and date of the Intelligencer fol lowing, enclosed with parentheses; the volume and page number of Mr. Sawyer's collection follow in bold-face type .
Mr. Edmund Sparks and Miss Aletta Jane Van Steenburg, both of Shanangunk, November 16, 1848; marriage solemnized by the Rev. J. Balliger. (Vol. 19, No. 961, December 28, 1848.) Vol. 5, p.37.

Mr. James Crookstone and Miss Catharine Sparks, both of Shawangunk, January 17, 1850; marriage solemnized by the Rev. J. Balliger. (Vol. 20, NO. 1020, February 14, 1850.) Vol. 5, p.80.

MPe Beaerly Sparks and Miss Lucretia T . Elyne, both of Shawangunk; July 4, 1850; marriage solemnized by the Rev. J. B. Alliger. (Vol. 20, No. July 4, 1850.) Vol. 5, p.99.

John Hinchman and Mary F. Sparks, only daughter of Walter C. Sparks, Esqr.; marriage solemnized by the Rev. Dr. Knox, on the second Inst. i.e. March 2, 1852. (Vol. 22, No. 1135, April 29, 1852.) Vol. 6, p.59.

Henry G . VanValkenburgh' of Troy, New York, and Sarsh Sparks of Shawan gunk, New York; September 20, 1852; marriag' solemnized by the Rev. Charles Scott. (Vol. 23, No. 1160, October 21, 1852.) Vol. 6, p.78.

Theodore W. Sparks and Emily Ann Terwilliger, both of Wawarsing; marriage solemnized by the Rev. Comlius Wykoff, at the Parsonage at Rochester, New York, May 28, 1856. (Vol. 27, No. 2357, July 31, 1856.) Vol. 7, page not copied.

Joseph 0. Sparks and Emily Ann Terwelliger, both of Gardiner; marriage solemnized by the Rev. C. Scott, October 12, 1859. (Vol. 30, No. 1526, October 27, 1859.) Vol. 8, p. 150.


The following item appeared in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly of March 1973, Vol. 61, No. 1, p.63, among "Ulster County, New York Court Records, 1693-1775."





Editor's Note: From time to time we have been publishing abstracts of pension application files of Union soldiers (or their heirs) who had served In the CIvil War.  (Confederate veterans could not qualify for federal pensions.)  A great many Union veterans, or theIr widows (sometimes their parents and their children), applied for pensions because of health and/or financial need resulting from theIr military service.  Congress was Increasingly generous in providing pensions for Union Army veterans and/or their widows as the years went by, and as theIr numbers became smaller.  The organization known as the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was a powerful lobby in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in obtaining benefits for  its members and their families.

The papers comprising each applicant's file, including rejected applications, are preserved at the National Archives In Washington, D. C., and many of them contain fascinating information, not only about the nature of the individual's military service, but about his family as well .

We have an index of all of the pension files for persons named Sparks that was compiled for us many years ago.  Using a special form provided by the National Archives and the payment of a fee, one can obtain either a copy of "selected papers" or of the entire file for a given applicant .  The " selected papers, " usually not more than ten sheets, have been selected because they are the papers considered to be most significant from a genealogical point of view.  In most instances, the papers in the "non-selected files" are of a rather routine nature, but sometimes they can be quite helpful, especially where the veteran or his widow had difficulty proving his service, identity, or relationship, and when neighbors, former army comrades, or relatives, were called upon for depositions . The following abstracts are from "selected papers. "

It was In the QUARTERLY of September 1967, Whole No.59, that we began publishing these abstracts . We have continued to use them as space permitted, adding editorial notes of any genealogical information that we may have regarding the veteran and his family . Below we continue this series of abstracts .

was born about 1842 and died on February 18, 1867.  He was a son of Virgil and Harriet (Terwilliger) Sparks who were living in Ulster County, New York, in 1850.  He served in Company E, 80th Regiment New York Volunteers (20th New York Militia).  File Designations: Inv. Appl. No. 119,363; Mother's Cert. No. 232,595; Father's Cert. No. 468,453.

William I . Sparks made a Declaration for an Invalid Pension on or about November 23, 1866; however, no copy of the declaration is among the "selected papers" from his pension file at the National Archives . He died a few months later .

On June 14, 1884, Harriet Sparks, age 56, a resident of Hamorrack, Ulster County, New York, made a Declaration for a Mother's Pension.  She stated that she was the mother of William I. Sparks who had enlisted on September 25, 1861, in Company E, 20th Regiment New York Volunteers to serve in the CIvil War.  While on duty, her son had contracted a chronic diarrhea that had continued until his death on Febru ary 18, 1867, at Hamorrack, Ulster County, New York.  She stated that she had been married to Virgil Sparks, father of her son, on November 18, 1843, at Shawangunk, New York, by the Rev . John T. Demarest.  Her maiden name had been Harriet Terwilliger.  She had been partially dependent upon her son for support. Her husband, Virgil Sparks, was still living, and they had three children who were still under the age of sixteen years when their brother, William I . Sparks, had died in 1867. They were:




Harriet Sparks appointed B . T . Wolf of Middleton, New York, as her attorney to assist her in obtaining a pension; her application was witnessed by Solomon Krom and Jesse C. Hansee.

On May 1, 1885, the War Department sent the Commissioner of Pensions a record of the military service of William I . Sparks. He had been enrolled as a private in Company E, 80th Regiment, New York Volunteers on September 25, 1861, at Wawarsing, New York.  At that time, he was 18 years of age.  He had served until he was mustered out of this company on September 24, 1864, near Petersburg, Virginia, by reason of the expiration of his service time.

A Mother's Pension Certificate No. 232,595 was issued to Harriet Sparks, and she was placed upon the pension roll.  When she died on February 2, 1898, she was receiving a pension of $12.00 per month.

On February 15, 1898, Virgil Sparks, age 77, a resident of Spring Glen, New York, made a declaration for a Father's Pension. He stated that he was the father of William l. Sparks who had been enrolled on September 25, 1861, in Company E, 20th Regiment New York Militia [sic] and had served until he had been discharged on September 24, 1864, at City Point, Virginia.  After his son's death on February 18, 1867, his mother, Harriet Sparks, had been granted a pension for her son's military service.  Since she had died on February 2, 1898, Virgil Sparks now requested that he receive a continuation of this pension.  He appointed George G . Keeler of Ellenville, New York, as his attorney to assist him in obtaining this continuation.  William A. Tice and Isaac A. Coon witnessed his signature.

Sparks made an affidavit on May 17, 1898, to support his application.  He stated that he owned no property except a small amount of household furniture worth about 30 or 35 dollars.  There was no one who was legally bound to furnish his support, and he had no means of support except by his own labor.  His age prohibited him from earning more that 50 to 75 cents per day.

Horace H . Terwilligar,  age 60, a resident of Ellenville, New York, and Sanford Cudney, age 49, a resident of Spring Glen, New York, supported Sparks' s affidavit.  They stated that neither Sparks nor his wife had any property.

On May 25, 1898, the Rev. E. 0. Moffett, age 40, a resident of Shawwangunk, New York, and the pastor of the Reformed Church of New Prospect, New York, stated that the church's marriage record book contained the entry that on November 18, 1841, Virgil Sparks and Harriet Terwilliger had been married by the Rev . John T . Demerest .  Witnesses to the marriage had been C. Upright and C. Schoonmaker .

On May 31, 1898, Newton Rockwell, age 50, a resident of Ellenville, New York, and an assessor for the town of Wawarsing, New York, swore that neither Harriet Sparks nor Virgil Sparks had been on the assessment rolls for the past eight years.




On June 3, 1898, John Van Horn, 55, clerk of the town of Wawarsing, stated that the town's Register of Vital Statistics contained a record of the death of Harriet Sparks.  She had died at Spring Glen, New York, on February 3, 1898, at the age of 71 years, 6 months, and 23 days.  Her birthplace had been New Prospect, New York; her father's name was Sweyn Terwililger, and her mother's name was Julia A. Terwilliger.  Harriet had been buried in the "Old Cemetery. "

Father's CertIficate No. 468,453 was Issued to Virgil Sparks, and he was placed upon the pension roll.  When he died on January 14, 1906, he was receiving a pension of $12 per month.

[Editor's Note: When the 1850 census was taken in New York, the household of Virgil Sparks was recorded in Wawarsing Township. (See pages 2396+ of the March 1982 issue of the QUARTERLY, No. 118, for a record of Sparkses appearing on the 1850 census of New York.) Virgil Sparks's family was given as follows:

Surname Given Name Age Born in: Occupation "Canal"
Sparks Virgil 35 New York Real Estate $200
     " Harriet 28   "        "

     " William 9   "        "

     " Ann 7   "        "

     " John 4   "        "

     " George 1   "        "

[William I. Sparks, subject of this pension file, was, of course, the 9-year-old son (apparently the oldest child) of Virgil and Harriet Sparks on the 1850 census.  No earlier record of Virgil has been found, nor have we been able to identify his parents.

[In her application for a Mother's Pension, Harriet stated her marriage to Virgil Sparks had been on November 18, 1843.  In the affidavit of the the Rev. E. 0.  Moffett dated May 25, 1898, the date had been November 18, 1841.  Her maiden name had been Harriet Terwilliger, and from the record made by the clerk of the town of Wawarsing, Ulster County, when she died in 1898, she had been born in New Prospect, New York, the daughter of Sweyn and Julia A. Terwilliger.  Among the Sparks marriages taken from the "New York Marriages from 1830 to 1871" given on page 5720 of the present issue of the QUARTERLY, there are records of two other Sparks/Terwilliger unions:

Theodore W. Sparks to Emily Ann Terwilliger on May 28, 1856, both of Wawarsing; and Joseph 0. Sparks to Emily Ann Terwelliger, both of Gardiner.  (It appears that, in deed, the two Emily Ann Terwilligers were different women with the same name.)

[Theodore W. Sparks, who was married to Emily A. Terwilliger in 1856, also served in the Civil war; he died in service on April 14, 1863.  He had been shown on the 1850 census, age 22, as born In Sullivan County, New York, which adjoins Ulster County.  He was then living in the household of Green M. Masters in Shawangunk Township, Ulster County.  Theodore's widow was granted a widow's pension, and the "selected papers" from her file were abstracted for the September 1992 Issue of the QUARTERLY, pp.4010-11.

[Also in the same issue of the QUARTERLY (September, 1992, No. 159, 4015-16) we published an abstract of the Civil War pension application of the widow of Calvin Sparks (1822-1862) whose name was Helen (Misner) Sparks.  She was living in Ellenville, Ulster County, New York, when she made application on November 10, 1862.  Calvin Sparks had been listed on the 1850 census of Wawarsing Township, Ulster County, as a member of the Joseph W. Edwards household.  His age was given as 24, a laborer.  Virgil Sparks had appeared In this same township in 1850.

[It would seem probable that these men named Sparks were somehow related to each other. We hope that a descendant of one of them will write to us.]





was born in June 1844 in Estill County, Kentucky, and was a son of Barnett and Polly (Muck) Sparks.  He was married to Nancy Isaacs in 1863 in Jackson County, Kentucky.  He served in Company E, 47th Regiment Kentucky Mounted Infantry Volunteers. Files designations: Inv.Cert. No. 820,844; Wid. Cert. No. 818,483; Wid.Cert.No. 820,844.

Thomas Sparks applied for in Invalid Pension on July 23, 1886, but no copy of his application form is among the "selected papers" from his file at the National Archives.  On December 4, 1886, the Commission of Pensions requested that the Adjutant-General furnish Sparks's military records to the Pension Office;  the Adjutant-General's office complied on March 1, 1887.  Thomas Sparks had been enrolled as a private in Company E, 47th Regiment Kentucky Mounted Infantry Volunteers on June 24; 1863, at Irvine, Kentucky, to serve for one year.  He was mustered out with his company on December 26, 1864, at Lexington, Kentucky.  There is no record of any disability suffered by him in the company's muster-roll.

Sparks's application for a pension was denied by the Bureau of Pensions; however, he applied again on November 27, 1891, under the June 1890 Act of Congress.  He was now 46 years of age and a resident of Pauls Valley, Indian Territory [the future state of Oklahoma].  He testified that he had been enrolled on June 24, 1865, in Capt H. J. Clark's Company E of the 47th Regiment of Kentucky Infantry, and he had served until he was mustered out with his company on December 26, 1864, at Lexington, Kentucky.  He was now unable to earn his support because of rheumatism, weak lungs, and weak eyes caused by too much exposure during his service.  He appointed Clement W. Bennett of Washington, D.C., as his attorney to assist him in obtaining a pension.  J. S. Imboden, Jr. attested the application, and R. S . McKinney witnessed Sparks make his mark .

Thomas Sparks was given a physical examination on February 3, 1892, by Doctors WIlliam J. Brown and S. S. Carr.  He was now 47 years old; he was 5 feet and 11 inches in height; and he weighed 149 pounds.  His examiners found that he weighed 149 pounds. They stated also that he suffered a 12/18 pension rating, and that he had little vision in his right eye.  They recommended a 12/18 pension for him.

Sparks was given another physical examination on September 7, 1892, by Doctors V. C Wood, Robt. E. Innis, and S. T. Burch.  They now recommended an 8/18 pension rating because of a disease of the eyes, a disease of the throat and general debility.  None of these conditions, they stated, had been caused by vicious habits .

Thomas Sparks was issued Invalid CertIficate No. 820,844, and he was placed on the pensIon roll.  He applied for increased pension benefits on December 17, 1895, claiming a greatly impaired physical condition.  He was now 53 years old and a resident of McGee, Pontotoc County, Indian Territory.  He appointed Charles and William King of Washington, D. C., as his attorneys to help him obtain an Increase.  J. A. Carleton and T. C. Moad attested to this declaration .

Sparks responded to a questionnaire from the Bureau of Pensions on July 8, 1899.  He stated that he had been married to Nancy Isaacs on December 31, 1868, in Jackson County, Kentucky, by the Rev. Abel Bryant.  It had been his first marriage. They had had nine children, but he could remember the birth dates of only two of them.  Their names were:



Thomas Sparks applied for an Increase in his pension benefits on June 8, 1912, under provision of the May 1912 Act of Congress.  He was now 69 years old and a resident of Konawa, Seminole County, Oklahoma.  Oklahoma had entered the Union as the 46th state in 1907.  Thomas stated in his 1912 application that he had lived in several places since leaving the military service.  Among these were Pauls Valley, Calvin, Maxwell, and Konawa--all in what was now Oklahoma.

On March 8, 1915, Thomas Sparks responded to another questionnaire from the Bureau of Pensions.  In completing this, he stated that he had been born in June 1844 In Estill County, Kentucky.  He had been married to Nancy Isaacs on December 31, 1868, in Jackson County, Kentucky.  They were still living together; they had nine children, as reported In 1899, but he was now able to provide the year of birth for all nine. He Identified the same nine as in 1912, but he called some by their nicknames:

Samuel Sparks, Born November 10, 1869
Dovie Sparks, born August 31, 1872
DollIe Sparks, born In 1874
Barnie [Barnett] Sparks, born July 29, 1878
Joe [Josiah] Sparks, born July 24, 1881
Jim [James] Sparks, born in 1884
Amanda Sparks, born in 1888
Jeff [Jefferson H.] Sparks, born In 1891
Mary [Mary Eliza] Sparks, born In 1894

Thomas Sparks died on January 18, 1916, at Konawa, Oklahoma.  He was receiving a pension then of $21.50 per month.  On April 18, 1916, his wife, Nancy Sparks, age 69 years, and a resident of Konawa, Oklahoma, applIed for a Widow's Pension under the provisions of the April 1908 Act of Congress.  She stated that she was the widow of Thomas Sparks who had been receiving a pension under Invalid Certificate No. 820,844.  He had died on January 18, 1916.  She appointed R. F. Selton, Washington, D.C., as her attorney to help secure a Widow's Pension for her.  M. A. Kennamer and Thomas Sparks [relationship not known] witnessed her make her mark on her application.

Eliza Isaac, age 87, and J. S. Isaac, age 56, both residents of Maxwell, Oklahoma, made a joint affidavit to support the application of Nancy Sparks.  [It appears that they had shortened their surname from Isaacs to Isaac.]  They stated that they had known Thomas and Nancy Sparks ever since their marriage on December 31, 1868, and that they had always been recognized as husband and wife.  Susie Isaacs and Laura Isaacs witnessed Eliza and J. S . Isaac sign this affidavit by making their marks.

E. M. Ward, Clerk of Jackson County, Kentucky, Court, sent to the Bureau of pensions a copy of the marriage record of Thomas Sparks to Nancy Isaacs.  They had been married on December 31, 1868, at Samuel Isaacs's house by Abel Bryant. M.G. George Sparks and John Isaacs had been witnesses.

On November 6, 1916, Nancy Sparks made an affidavit to support her pension claim.  She swore that she and Thomas Sparks had been married on December 31, 1868.  She had been born on June 11, 1847, at Proctor, in Lee County, Kentucky.  M. A. Kennamer witnessed her make her mark.




Widow's Pension Certificate No. 818,483 was issued to Nancy Sparks, and she was placed upon the pension roll at the rate of $12.00 per month.  When she died on February 4, 1924, she was receiving a pensIon of $30.00 per month.

[Editor's Note: Thomas Sparks (1844-1916) was a son of Barnett and Polly (Muck) Sparks; he was the third among their eleven children, all born in that part of Estill County, Kentucky, that was cut off to help form Jackson County In 1858.  It was in Jackson County that he was married to Nancy Isaacs on December 29, 1868, with Samuel Isaacs as his bondsman.  We do not know Samuel Isaacs' relationship to Nancy (Isaacs) Sparks.

[Barnett Sparks, father of Thomas Sparks (1844-1916), was born in or about 1815.  He was a son of Isaac Sparks, Jr. and his first wife, Annis McGuire.  Barnett had been married to Mary Muck (commonly called by her nickname, "Polly") in Estill County, Kentucky, on January 17, 1839.  She had been born about 1817.  He paid taxes in Estill County from 1841 until Jackson County was formed In 1858.  Barnett and Polly lived on War Fork of Station Creek.

[Isaac Sparks, Jr., grandfather of Thomas Sparks (1844-1916), was born about 1783.  This probable year for his birth is based on the fact that Isaac, Jr. began paying taxes in Clark County, Kentucky, in 1804.  His first marriage was on March 8, 1809, in Estill County, Kentucky, to Annis McGuire, a daughter of William McGuire.  She and Isaac Sparks, Jr. were the parents of four children (Barnett was the 4th) before Annis died between 1816 and 1820. Isaac, Jr. was married, second, about 1822, to Frances Crawford, who bore eleven children. Isaac, Jr., died about 1846.  For a record of all of the fifteen children of Isaac Sparks, Jr. see the QUARTERLY of June 1974, No. 86.

[The great-grandfather of Thomas Sparks (1844-1916) was Isaac Sparks, Sr.  An article by the late Paul E . Sparks devoted to Isaac, Sr . and his descendants was begun In the QUARTERLY of March 1974, No.85, page 1620, and continued in that of June 1974, No. 86.  He had been born prior to 1765 according to the 1810 census of Estill County, Kentucky.  He was probably nearly seventy years of age when that census was taken, however, because at the May term of the Estill County Court that year (1810) it was ordered that he "be exempt from paying the County levy in the future on account of old age and Infirmity."  He had probably been born between 1740 and 1745.  No record has been found suggesting where he might have been born.  We know that he paid taxes in Fayette County, Kentucky, between 1787 and 1792, at which time he began paying his taxes in the newly created county of Clark.  He had probably not moved with the formation of Clark County, nor in 1808 when Estill County was created from Clark and Madison Counties and he became a taxpayer in that new county.  In 1810, however, as noted above, he was exempted from paying taxes because of "old age and infirmity."

[Isaac Sparks, Sr. died early in 1815.  He left no will, and his personal property was inventoried for sale on May 24, 1815.  His widow was Identified as Catherine Sparks in connection with the sale.  She was also shown as head of her household in Estill County when the 1820 census was taken.  She was not shown, however, on the 1830 census.  She had doubtless died by then.

[Isaac Sparks, Sr . and his wife, Catherine, were pioneer settlers In eastern Kentucky.  They were the parents of at least nine children, and there are doubtless thousands of their descendants living today.]

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Scanned by Harold E. Sparks, Edited  by  James  J. Sparks